Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A W. Eric Croomes Comment: The Nexus of Parenting, Relationship and Youth in the Black Community

In the past three weeks our Dallas/Fort Worth community has been rocked by a trilogy of murder, deviant parenting and the loss of a promising young life.
First we watched in agony as a young mother egged her middle-school age daughter into fisticuffs with another young lady; we reacted in horror at the news that a nineteen-year old young man had been pushed to his death in front of a train because he refused to give up his Ipod; and we were shocked at yet another incident of domestic violence when a young man, apparently distraught regarding the end of his relationship, gunned down his children’s mother, her stepfather and her younger sister’s boyfriend.
It is tempting to wag our heads in disbelief and dismiss the above incidents as common occurrence. Then we don’t have to accept our responsibility.
We must, however, view what happened with a different set of cultural lens. Then we’d see the nexus of parenting, relationships and the perplexing issues touching our youth. We’d see the three incidents not as isolated events, but rather as a continuum of the decline in values that has rocked our country and, by default, our community.
The common ingredient in all three scenarios is violence. We live in a violent culture; our relationships are touched with conflict. The messages we get on an almost daily basis is use force to get what you want. Hence, a mother teaches her young daughter to use her fists; a group of young men use group intimidation; a man employs a bullet.
What’s happened to us? How did we fall so low? And, most crucially, who is responsible?
It’s easy to point out fingers in all three incidents. But here’s the greater point: in a very real sense, all of us – by default – is responsible. We all share in the plot and execution of every conceivable incident of crime in our community when precious lives are taken and even more precious lives are left in tatters.
I am responsible when I don’t use my God-given voice to speak to a person reeking with self-destructive behaviors. Each of the offending parties comes from a family unit. Somebody had to catch wind of a young mother’s angry spirit; somebody had to witness the slow descent of one of those young men into the abyss of negative peer pressure; surely someone had to glimpse the despair of a young man who didn’t quite know how to handle the end of a relationship. And maybe someone did try to intervene at some point, at some time. But was it enough? Could more have been done?
But maybe it’s you reading this piece that may need the most attention. I have been for the last year embroiled in a bitter child visitation and access war with the mother of my youngest son. Words have been exchanged; no doubt insults hurled. But at the forefront of my mind I keep this one positive truth: it doesn’t have to be this way. And that leads me to find other, more diplomatic routes to intervention. But we can commit to doing better, to take a more active role in the lives of those whom we know to be spiraling out of control. We may or may not change outcomes, but in the end what counts is having tried. In trying, we at least prevent the ruined lives left in the wake of tragedy.

Positive Thought for the Week

"Change is the engine of the empowered life; if you are not willing to tap into the wellspring of your existence, to accept change, you will never move beyond your present shores."

-Author unknown

Did You Know?

Between the 1970's and 1999 the rate of suicide among black males climbed from 7.9 per 100,000 in 1970 to 10.9in 1997, compared to a modest increase in the rate for all blacks during the same period. Furthermore, since the 1970's, the rate of increase in suicides among black males in their twenties has been alarmingly steady. Source: Lay My Burden Down, Suicide and the Mental Health Crisis among African Americans, Dr. Alvin Pouissant and Amy Alexander

Don't Believe the Hype!

Hype: Teenage pregnancy is a runaway problem in the African American community.

Fact: African Americans ages 15 to 19 experienced the steepest decline in birth rates—42 percent—from 118 per 1,000 women in 1991 to 68 in 2002. Among African Americans ages 15 to 17, birth rates dropped by 52 percent between 1991 and 2002.
Source: Advocates for Youth

The Literati: A Crisis in the Mental Health of Black America

Suicide has always been a hush-hush topic in the African-American community; nothing silences a conversation more suddenly than talk of someone who has taken their own life, whether a family member or friend. With the publication of Lay My Burden Down, Suicide and the Mental Health Crisis Among African-Americans in 2000, the veil of secrecy and inherited shame was lifted and the subject was put out in the public arena. Its authors, Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint and Amy Alexander, offer a convincing, cogent and relentlessly grievous account as to the myriad reasons so many African-Americans suffer from depression and other mental health issues and how those reasons lay the groundwork for the ultimate act of self-aggression: suicide. In particular, and certainly disturbing, is the suicidal trend of black males in America, which tripled between the 1980’s and the end of the twentieth-century, according to the authors. The common element of this trend is the loss of hope, a virtue that historically underpinned the ability of blacks to overcome the legacy of discrimination, segregation and unequal justice. Says Poussaint and Alexander: “…the realities of modern life have begun to undermine the historic adoptions, the coping strategies that are part of the African-American culture.” Lay My Burden Down requires the immediate and consistent attention from anybody who senses the urgency of self-destructive behaviors in a family member or friend and is a must-read for policy chieftains, church leaders and grass-roots organizations.

An Interview with Rev. James David Manning

This interview was conducted by W. Eric Croomes on Friday, October 31, 2008 regarding Manning's comments on Senator Barack Obama.

Blog Archive

About the Editor

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Arlington, Texas, United States
W. Eric Croomes is a writer and playwright based in Irving, Texas and a native of Phoenix, Arizona. Eric is a graduate of Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas, earning a Bachelor of Arts in religion and sociology and is founder and executive director of Millennium Men of Color, a non-profit black male advocacy group. In 2002, Eric self-published Dance in the Dark, Poetic Reflections on Love and Culture, a collection of his original poems and essays on love and relationship in the African-American tradition. Three to Eight, a play examining the hours when most teens become pregnant and most juvenile crime is committed, was Eric’s first theatrical release and debuted at the 2004 Black N Blues one act play festival at the African-American museum in Dallas. Brotha2Brotha, Becoming Healthy Men from the Inside Out, a spiritual primer for men of color, was released in September, 2006. Eric’s next book, Thoughts in Black and Male, is slated for release in spring 2008. COMING SOON: THEVILLAGEREPORT.NET Visit Eric at

Trademark Info

The Village Report with W. Eric Croomes is a registered trademark of The Apple Tree Group. All content authored by W. Eric Croomes is Copyrighted 2008.

January 19, 2008 issue of Golfweek Magazine

January 19, 2008 issue of Golfweek Magazine
and I didn't say 1958!